An outstanding save from Savita Punia gave India the coveted Women's Hockey Asia Cup after 13 years and also ensured their qualification for next year’s Hockey World Cup. It was a nerve-wracking affair throughout as India broke the jinx on Sunday.
India defeated the mighty Chinese by 5-4 in the shoot-out. Indian skipper Rani Rampal scored the final goal for the Women in Blue and then came that magical moment when Punia saved the last shootout attempt from China.
With this victory, India amazingly finished the tournament without losing even a single match.
India played the 2010 World Cup edition, finished in the ninth position, and unfortunately could not qualify for the 2014 edition. With such a performance, Indian women can hope for a complete turn- around in the upcoming World Cup.
Rani scored a brace while Monica, Lilima Minz and Navjot scored a goal each in the shootout. Prior to that, it was Navjot Kaur who scored India's lone goal in the 25th minute while China found a late equaliser through Tiantian Luo, who converted a penalty corner in the 47th minute.
In 2004, India won their last Asia Cup by beating Japan by 1-0, in New Delhi.
It’s hard to not make a 'Chak De India' reference whenever we hear cheerful news about women’s hockey in India. But it becomes even more important to refrain from making it, because the hockey team’s years of continuous effort cannot be reduced to the summation of a movie plot.
Savita brought smiles to millions of faces, and she was adjudged the goalkeeper of the tournament for her efforts.